Kashmir, known as “Heaven on Earth” is an honest manifestation of this title during winter. From exquisite Harissa to thrilling heli-skiing and other adventure sports, winter in Kashmir has so many delicacies to offer for those planning to visit the valley during the cold months. Whether it’s your family trip, your honeymoon, or an outing with friends, you need to plan it wisely so you don’t miss out on the best places to see in this heavenly destination.
Historic shrines, fascinating valleys, snow-capped peaks and frozen lakes await you this winter in Kashmir. The tranquility and peace that the valley offers help visitors to establish an inner connection with themselves.
Although the whole of Kashmir is teeming with beauty and happiness during the winter, we have selected five places which are the main draws and must not be missed during your stay in Kashmir. Although in the summer you can choose from many other places to visit in Kashmir, in the winter these places offer the best adventure, exhilaration and thrills possible.
Recently named Creative City by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – the only Indian city to have achieved this title – Srinagar is one of the best places in Kashmir where you can make the most of your time. vacation with your loved ones. Besides ancient temples and historic shrines, the city boasts of rich art and traditional craftsmanship that are aesthetically deep and inspiring to watch.
Some of the traditional arts are walnut wood carving, wickerwork, pashmina making, copperworking, and carpet weaving. The city, especially the downtown area, is full of places, clusters and workshops where those with a taste for traditional arts can go to satisfy their eyes and buy the works to adorn their living rooms.
With lush forest cover, the city is also close to nature and places like Shanakaracharya Temple and Dachigam Wildlife Reserve are must visits for those who enjoy being in nature.
For a stay, the famous Dal Lake and Jhelum River houseboats provide a comfortable substitute if you don’t want to spend your nights in a boring hotel room with no view of nature through your window.
Srinagar is also home to the famous Mughal Gardens which were built by Mughal rulers from the 16th to the 17th century on the shores of Dal Lake and dusk and dawn are the best time of day to visit the gardens. Apart from these, other interesting places to see in Srinagar are: Hazratbal Mosque, Jama Masjid, Nigeen Lake, Khanqah, Fort Hari-Parbat and Jalali House. Moreover, if you are into history and historical artifacts, Srinagar SPS Museum in Lal-Mandi is a treasure trove of historical artifacts.
Located just six kilometers from the current Line of Control, Gulmarg, the Flower Meadow, is the epitome of beauty during winters. Coated in sparkling snow, the famous tourist destination is the perfect paradise for anyone who loves to see snow.
Gulmarg, considered the capital of adventure sports in winter, offers many winter sports including skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snow biking, sledding and snowmobiling. Also, for those who wish to take their adventure a little further, heliskiing is also available. Gulmarg Gondola, one of the tallest cable car projects in the world, can take tourists up to 4,200 meters above sea level to the top of the Apharwat Mountains.
The main attraction of Gulmarg in winter is the Snow Festival in which cultural performances and snow sports tournaments are organized by the Department of Tourism and Culture of Jammu and Kashmir.
Other attractions in Gulmarg are Alpather Lake, Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve, Strawberry Valley, Apharwat Peak, Maharaja’s Gulmarg Palace, Maharani Palace and St. Mary’s Church.
While on your way to Gulmarg, Hookersar is a must stop. Located at Zainakoot in Srinagar, Hokersar is the largest bird sanctuary in the Kashmir Valley. Part of the Central Asian Flyway Zone, Hokersar is home to nearly one million migratory birds during the winter. These migratory water birds flock en masse from Mangolia, Siberia, Europe and Turkey to make Kashmir their home during winters. Watching these exotic visitors to Kashmir swing, swim and inflate their majestic wings is a real feast for the eyes.
For people planning to visit Kashmir this year in winter, Sonmarg brings the good news. Made possible by the construction of the Z Morh tunnel, the magnificent winter spot should remain open this winter.
Sonmarg or “the meadow of gold” is one of the most sought after destinations in Kashmir. It is the best place to visit in Kashmir in winter. With a perfect view of the snow-capped mountains, Sonmarg stands out alone in the crowd to make the vacation of tourists fascinating. A hike to the Thajiwas Glacier would shake the spirit of any temperate city.
Pahalgam, called the village of the shepherds, is a small valley located about 90 kilometers south of Srinagar. Its lush green meadows and crystal clear waters attract thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. The destination attracts almost 70% of visitors to the valley and is the Amarnath Cave base camp.
A day trip to Pahalgam may not be enough as the place has a lot of other sights to offer. The hotels in Pahalgam are very comfortable and economical. So, while you are in Pahalgam, some of the must-see places are:
· Aru Village: Located about 12 kilometers from Pahalgam, Aru is a small, idyllic village popular with tourists looking for peace and quiet. There are nearly 20 alpine lakes, peaks and meadows surrounding the village of Aru. During the winter the village receives heavy snowfall and therefore skiing and heli-skiing are also popular with tourists visiting the peaceful village.
· Betaab Valley: Located within walking distance of Pahalgam, the valley takes its name from a Bollywood Betaab movie that was shot there. The valley is lush and green. Trout fishing in the Lidder River is a favorite pastime here.
· Baisaran Valley: Just 5 kilometers from Pahalgam, the Baisaran Valley is a lush, mountain-top meadow flanked by snow-capped mountains and dotted with thick pine forests. If you want to experience snow, the optimal time to go to Baisaran is from January to March.
Apart from these five places, there is a plethora of destinations in Kashmir that surpass themselves in beauty, happiness and natural bounty. So, be sure to browse them if you want to explore Kashmir beyond the few places we’ve mentioned here.
The temperature in Kashmir during winters drops to zero and even minus degrees. So, don’t forget to pack your warm clothes and get ready for a wonderful Kashmir experience. The valley is famous for its hospitality and the people are very tourist friendly.